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Getting Off NetHack? 141

thetan asks: "Like a lot of Slashdot readers, I've played a little NetHack as a teenager. Alright, quite a lot - but it was no big deal and I just sort of grew out of it. Now I'm not proud of this, but I got my gf hooked and she's been using daily for a few years now. After she tired of the game, I tried sating the monkey on her back with new fixes like Angband and ADOM. Now, I no longer want be a party to her addiction and self-destruction. She acknowledges the problem but is not yet ready to take that first step. What can I do to help ween her off? Could interactive fiction act as a methadone - or does it result in just as much harm? What other strategies have users employed to get clean? Does anyone know of NetHack addiction support groups or a 12-step? I'm desperate to get her back!"
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Getting Off NetHack?

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  • Are you insane? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Godeke ( 32895 ) * on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @12:45PM (#14446424)
    To heck with getting her back: introduce her to the world of MMORPGs or even MUDs, if the command line is her thing. Or try the Champions of Norrath/Baldurs Gate multiplayer slashemups for the consoles. Find a Diablo collector's chest for the PC. My wife and I had a lot of fun in all of the above, before she went back to finish her PhD (she is now restricted to 15 minute doses of Nintendogs for her gaming fix during the week and we get in some Champions of Norrath: Return to Arms on weekends along with my son.

    Trying to reject the fantasy adventure bug is just silly... use it as a point of common interest. If you insist on allowing her to continue adventuring alone, my wife loves the Heros of Might and Magic/Age of Magic type games on her laptop when traveling. I think you would be ill advised to get between your girlfriend and her enjoyment though. It will be far *more* damaging to *your* enjoyment than just going with the flow.

    • Now here's a question for the crowd... is there anything like a multiplayer Nethack? Something you could telnet into with a single dungeon, but multiple players running through it? And no, I'm not talking standard MUD's or other games, but actual multiplayer Nethack.
      • I don't think so - if memory serves, the Nethack FAQ addresses this and says it's not of interest to the dev team and would break the Nethack model. The chief problem is that in Nethack, you have an infinite time to think/plan between moves (keyboard presses)...this doesn't jibe well with multiplayer.
      • The DevTeam is asked that question frequently, and thus it is the FAQ. There are graphical multiplayer "spiritual" descendants ( [], for example), but no telnet games that use the grid and have multi-play that I know of. This is a shame, because the "graphics" in the multiplayer games are, um, lacking.

        The real enduring beauty of Nethack though is the turn based nature, which translates poorly into multi-play and the character set "graphics" which engage the imagination far more t
      • Now here's a question for the crowd... is there anything like a multiplayer Nethack? Something you could telnet into with a single dungeon, but multiple players running through it? And no, I'm not talking standard MUD's or other games, but actual multiplayer Nethack.

        Go look at the Usenet group. There's often talk about this-or-that tournament server being up or down. I haven't bothered to find out exactly what they mean. I suppose it's mostly a matter of sharing the highscore l

    • To heck with getting her back: introduce her to the world of MMORPGs or even MUDs, if the command line is her thing.

      Having recently gotten over my own MMO addiction, I can't see recommending that anybody urge anybody else (particularly their spouse) to get into MMOs. Couple-friendly offline co-op games, like Diablo (which you also suggest) I can see, but I'm begging the OP, don't go MMO.
      • Interesting: I found playing MMO with my wife *limited* the time in the game world. We only adventured together, so only when both of us were available did it get played. That meant an hour or so in the evening and maybe a longer session once during the weekend. I guess it depends on the dynamics in play.
        • My wife and I generally only played World of Warcraft when we could both play together. There were a few times she got ahead of me or visa versa, but we found that having someone in the same room you could talk to in realtime and discuss stragety really made the game fun.

          Then she had a baby two months ago and I think we've logged on twice ;-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @12:47PM (#14446439)
    You must kill her.
    • You must kill her.

      In game or in real life. I see problems with the first, as she'd probably kick his ass, and I see a problem with the second as she'd probably kick his ass.
  • by hoggoth ( 414195 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @12:49PM (#14446451) Journal
    Get a dog. Name him 'little-d'.
    Dress yourself up as a giant '@' sign.

    Approach your girlfriend and let the fun begin.
    If she jumps your bones, all is well.

    If she attacks you, don't worry, the dog will jump in and protect you.
  • Try this (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Break up with her. :D
    She won't be able to cope with that coming from the man who introduced her to nethack.
    Walk up to her, give her a long speech "...I simply can't stand you playing these games all the time. I have tried, God knows I have tried, but I can't take it anymore. As long as you continue doing this, to me, you are dead. Do you want your posessions identified?".
  • by amliebsch ( 724858 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @12:55PM (#14446504) Journal
    Unless she decides that she wants to stop playing (which she apparently hasn't) there is nothing you can do to make her stop. Your only hope is to persuade her to voluntarily alter her behavior. Maybe an intervention is in order.
    • by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @01:02PM (#14446554)
      As a former treatment professional, this is the first response I saw that made sense in terms of how addiction works.

      People who are addicted to anything may have a chemical imbalance, but if they're addicted to something like this, it is likely she is using it as a crutch instead of dealing with other problems. Her life may be unfulfilling or she may just not deal well with reality. If this is a true addiction, and you aren't just using hyperbole, then she likely needs professional help. HOWEVER, she has to make the decision that she has a problem and seek help. If she is just doing it because you push her into it, she is doing it for you and not for herself, and a relapse would be easy.

      Remember that now it is a problem for you, but not for her. It makes her happy and causes no problems for her, that she can see. You can't change another person. You can only hope they see they have a problem and seek help. If she never realizes she has a problem, then you won't be able to do anything effective and it may be time to move on.
      • by Elwood P Dowd ( 16933 ) <> on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @05:30PM (#14449063) Journal
        likely she is using it as a crutch instead of dealing with other problems
        Uh... ok. When you break your leg we won't let you use a crutch either.

        That metaphor has always boggled me. Since when were crutches bad? Who uses crutches when they don't need to? Is this some kind of epidemic I've never heard of?

        Addictions aren't like crutches. They're like addictions.
        • If you have to take the metaphor that literally, then you don't get it.

          It's that simple.
          • The point of the metaphor is that if something is like a crutch it is something you don't need and are depending upon because you are weak.

            There is no simpler way to put it. I'm not being overly literal when I say that has nothing to do with a "crutch".
            • If someone is color blind and sees only black and white, there is no way you'll ever successfully explain the difference between red and green.

              A metaphor is a comparison to help an explanation. That does not mean the metaphor is literally the same.

              For example, someone might need a crutch, but after a while, instead of using the leg and letting it get stronger, they always use the crutch instead of facing the pain of rehabilitation. That's where the metaphor comes from.

              But trying to help a person who can o
              • No, I understand the metaphor. I just think it's worthless. In my experience, people do not use crutches rather than face the pain of rehabilitation.

                Please, consider the possibility that I actually had a point and that I'm not mentally limited in such a way that I "can only understand literal meanings".

                I might be wrong here, but I am quite capable of all types of abstract thought.
                • people do not use crutches rather than face the pain of rehabilitation.

                  Oh. Okay. I see. You expect everyone throughout the world to behave exactly as you expect from your experience. So if it is in your experience it is true. Otherwise it just doesn't happen.

                  Yes, you have a point, but one that is only true in a very limited part of reality and when you look at all of reality, there is more to it than that.
                  • Uh... the reason I said "in my experience" was to point out that I understand my experience is limited. This is your opportunity to say that either your experience or some third party indicates otherwise & people really do use crutches all the time when they shouldn't.

                    Otherwise, your experience coincides with mine, & perhaps crutches aren't exactly the best metaphor for addictive drugs. Because crutches almost always a good thing in real life.

                    • And that is a point I was making: your experience is limited -- especially if you've never seen someone not facing the pain of rehabilitiation.

                      As to your experience and mine coinciding, my experience includes many of the patients I dealt with in treatment situations in the institutions I worked in as well as the physical therapists I worked with and all the other trained professionals I worked with who worked with people recovering from mental and physical problems and injuries. In my original post I point
                    • So, in your extensive experience, do people use actual physical crutches when they are not needed? For example, after they have broken their leg?
                    • Wow. You guys are hilarious. Hey, Wandering Hermit- something tells me you take yourself a little too seriously.
                    • Yes. Or people that have sprains and don't need a crutch but want one or insist on it.

                      A crutch is something to lean on, something to support one's weight instead of the person supporting themselves. The most often seen use is for people with an injured leg, but there are many times people use a crutch when they don't need one. They just don't want to face the effort and/or pain in fully supporting themselves. The same is true when you're talking about psychological crutches -- in fact more so.
                    • Yes. Or people that have sprains and don't need a crutch but want one or insist on it.
                      Cool. Could have cleared that up four comments ago.
        • I think the metaphor is more like: you have a broken leg, and instead of setting it, you just use a crutch for years.

          Though now that you mention it, it is kind of a silly metaphor.
    • by mengel ( 13619 ) <`mengel' `at' `'> on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @01:41PM (#14446849) Homepage Journal
      Well, hack up the sources for your local copy of Nethack to make it much much harder. When you can't win, the games get much less fun.

      For example, find that flag that gets set if you eat your pet and turn it on at the beginning of the game. Turn up the odds on spontaneous monster creation, etc. Take scrolls of Remove Curse out of the game and crank up the odds on a water demon being created if you dip things in fountains...

      She'll think she's lost her touch, and get disgusted, and quit. Of course, she may also smash your computer into little, eensy, weensy, tiny pieces first...

  • by Ayaress ( 662020 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @12:56PM (#14446511) Journal
    The fact that you've found a girl who doesn't get that weird look in her eye when you tell her your playing Nethack is not something to be overlooked. An above poster is on the right track: Don't try to fight it, build on it. Get her into MUDs, maybe buy her Neverwinter Nights and find a few persistent world servers she can try out, introduce her to MMORPGs if she's doing well on lighter stuff.

    See, by trying to break her of video games, you're basically trying to create a typical girlfriend. If you succeed, it'll only be a matter of time before she starts complaining that you spend more time raiding with your guild than you do taking her out, or that you should find a more grown-up hobby than games. Before you know it, you'll be married and your video games will be up in a garage sale like so many gamers before you.
  • by sevinkey ( 448480 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @12:59PM (#14446541)
    ... she's wasting her time and not advancing herself during that time, which is probably the biggest downside to drug addition at first, but at least when she's over it, she won't have brain or liver damage. Also has the advantage of being able to "sober-up" at any point in time if an important interruption comes along. Try having work call after a couple of bong hits and compare that with having them call during a video game.

    It's cool that you genuinely care about your girlfriend's well-being, but go watch an episode of Jerry Springer and see if you've got it so bad. Everyone needs their vice... at least she's chose one of the better ones.
    • Dude, I *need* the bong hits if I know work are gonna phone, otherwise they will wonder why I only talk slurred at work !!
    • by CFTM ( 513264 )
      I know many stoners and I've known many game addicts...the stoners are much more responsive. If you don't believe me then you've never seen someone utterly ingrossed in a video game. It's like talking to a brick wall, also I would be willing to bet that there is at least one person you work with who seems completely normal and straight edge who shows up to work stoned everyday and they are not noticably different.

      It does impair you but people who do it habitually function remarkably well, I garentee you t
      • If you don't think I have experience with someone cracked out on a game, you should talk to my wife. :) She also reports the same responses you described above from me when I'm programming.

        Considering those studies that say the tech industry has around an 80% drug use rate, it would be hard to believe that someone going to work stoned with blow juice dripping down to their chin can't get the job done. The world would have fell apart years ago if that was the case.
      • "also I would be willing to bet that there is at least one person you work with who seems completely normal and straight edge who shows up to work stoned everyday and they are not noticably different."

        Ssshhhh, I think my boss reads /. and I don't want him getting any ideas.

  • But try having sex. Most people find that preferable to pretty much anything else.
  • by xplenumx ( 703804 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @01:05PM (#14446574)
    Spouses of Everquest (and now WoW I'm sure) addicts have had to deal with this problem for quite some time. Hopefully you'll find the following two resources useful:

    EverQuest Widows Discussion Board []

    On-Line Gamers Anonymous []

    Best of luck.

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @01:08PM (#14446597) Journal
    Yes? Then no problem. At least when she is on nethack there is no chance of her meeting a handsome hunk of a man. (Yes I considered the possibilty that the poster is one but broke down in hysterical laugher after 1 second)

    No? Then no problem, your a geek and weren't going to get any anyway.

    But if your desperate I suggest sneaking up on her when she is asleep and tying her to the bed and giving her more sex then a woman can handle. Let all the frustation of you years of being a geek virgin out and rock her boat.

    Either it will give her a new appreciation of dating a geek (unlikely but you never know) or it will get you arrested and thrown in jail. Wich is still good since you at least lost your cherry and will soon loose another as you meet your new cell mate.

    Anyone else thinks the chances of the original question being real are less then zero? Any real geek with a nethack addicted girlfriend would be to busy thanking god on his knees to post on /.

    • Anyone else thinks the chances of the original question being real are less then zero? Any real geek with a nethack addicted girlfriend would be to busy thanking god on his knees to post on /.

      That was my thought too. I bought it at first, but by the end it felt like the submitter was trying too hard, and lost the sense of authenticity.
  • from the worse-than-crack dept

    I was thinking more along the lines of from the editors-on-crack dept. Although, at least this one didn't have every "fi" substring deleted from the text, like yesterday's book excerpt.

  • ditching the habit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @01:09PM (#14446605)
    You are right to be fairly concerned about this. I had a serious addiction to MMO's (1 year logged online in 3 years real time) and the only real way to quit as far as I can tell is to go cold turkey. Every person I know that shifted to a "toned down" game ended up coming back to the original game or finding a new game to fully dedicate themselves to. For me, I sold my character and took the money I made to go live in Italy for a year with my gf (now wife). I put myself in a situation where the only interaction I had with the computer was checking my email at the internet cafe and it helped break my cycle of addiction.

    When I got back to the states and felt the urge to play I just turned that energy into something that was more productive/social (I went to grad school, started playing basketball at the local gym, etc...). I don't really have a suggestion about how you should go about doing it because I don't know your friend, but the key is finding a variety of replacement activities (not just one as that will probably become another addiction if that is the only focus).
  • "Get her off the computer... terminate the internet access if you have to... she is in crisis and you're just enabling her addiction... get rid of the computer if you have to... she's replacing healthly living with this addiction... give her something healthy to do..."

    That's what I think he would say... no idea if he would.

    But yah dude... kill your Internet access for a few weeks... it should help her get back to normal.
    • This presumes she has no other way to get to nethack, or no other way to get a network connection for that matter.

      She's not a child, nor is there a suggestion that she feels she is suffering from too much playing. The OP may feel left out, but that's not necessarily a problem with the Net-hack-like-game "addict" in question. He could very well be co-dependant for all we know. There is no indication that she as an individual is performing at-risk behaviors for herself. Suggesting that one cut off her ne

    • dude, this is nethack.

      once downloaded, you need no type of internet connection to play.

      heck, the game is so small (2MB when all zipped up) she could hide it just about anywhere
  • Go multiplayer. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 6350' ( 936630 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @01:26PM (#14446748)
    As in, move over to a multplayer roguelike. []

    Because an addiction shared is an addiction you can feel slightly less bad about.
  • Not an answer to the question, but an interesting true story:

    When I was 15 or so, my psichiatrist told me of a patient of hers who was so addicted to Everquest, that she could only handle talking to her son in-game.

    Either that or I read it online... I can't really remember now. Lithium is murder for your memory. But I digress...
  • by neo ( 4625 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @01:36PM (#14446812)
    You need to immediately switch her to a dworvak keyboard, preferably one that is ergonomic. It's tough love, but this will force her to pursue other entertainment sources and increase her typing speed.

    If that doesn't work, your last option is to go keyboardless. I suggest a mac, with the single button mouse. Be gentle with her, this is not an easy habit to break.

    If all else fails you have one last hope... CoreWars.
  • 12 Steps. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Zangief ( 461457 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @01:41PM (#14446853) Homepage Journal
    1) She has to recognize that she has a problem.
    2) She has to realize, that her willpower alone isn't enough to overcome the problem.
    3) She has to recognize that only Yendor has the power to solve her problem.
    4-12) Play more Nethack.
  • by MilenCent ( 219397 ) < minus painter> on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @01:52PM (#14446960) Homepage
    It's simple, the solution is to encourage the addiction.

    Nethack is a wonderfully rich and complex game, but its depths are not infinite, just much greater than the norm. I don't play much Nethack anymore because, well, because I've ascended many of the character classes now, including the most challenging ones. That doesn't make the game less interesting, but ultimately you do start wanting something more, even from Nethack.

    Once you finally learn the most relevent tricks, winning at Nethack isn't even hard. (Price IDing, strategies for early wishes, learning not to starve in the upper levels, figuring out how to make holy water and remembering to pray each help a lot.) So, point her to, and to the many game spoiler sites on the Internet (in Nethack's case those sites are a lot more necessary to play than other games).

    Then, once she's finally burnt out on the game, make sure she doesn't learn C and start adding onto the game herself. Then you might never get her back.

    • "Then, once she's finally burnt out on the game, make sure she doesn't learn C and start adding onto the game herself. Then you might never get her back.
      To the guy who moderates all my positive posts -1 Overrated: Have you considered getting a life?

      MilenCent, I have mod points and you can't imagine how hard it was not to mod you -1 Overrated. :-)
      • MilenCent, I have mod points and you can't imagine how hard it was not to mod you -1 Overrated. :-)

        Now I have mod points, just meta-modded his +1 Funny as fair, and am having a hard time resisting moderating either of you as Overrated for kicks. :)
  • While she is playing Nethack, at least she cannot go shopping, or bug you for making a baby...
  • Your girlfriend is in a dark room. She is most likely being eaten by a grue.
  • I and several of my friends have done the same. We realized that we were addicted to video games and, as much as we loved them and cherished our memories playing those games, we realized that it was disrupting our lives in un-healthy ways. Not everyone has this problem with video game, just as not everyone who takes drugs has a drug problem. However, if you think your girlfriend's life is being seriously disrupted by her video gaming, then there are only two things you can do to help her. Talk to her ab
  • Get her a T-shirt with the letter 'n' on it. Get yourself a t-shirt with '@' on it.

  • Interactive Fiction isn't a methadone -- it's an addiction in its own right. Even worse, if she gets sucked far enough in, she'll start writing the stuff, and then you'll never see her. (Other than on IFMud or r.a.i-f.)
    • I'd be wary of Interactive Fiction written by a Nethack addict.

      You are in a room. Exits lead north and east.
      You can see a *.
      Suddenly a D attacks you!


      It is very dark. Better be careful or you might be eaten by a g.
  • First of all, have you tried just asking her to stop using it so much? You didn't say if you want her to spend more time with you, or more time doing other things, or what, but in many relationships you can just ask the other person to change a behavior and they will. You can ask her to quit cold-turkey, or just step it down a little bit. If it's a big deal in your relationship, make that clear to her. If she won't change, try counseling or leave her.

    If she wants to quit and can't, or you're concerned that
  • Perhaps a nice and simple heroin habit to ween her off the game? Then perhaps another transition to Starcraft, then alcohol and eventually she'll just play the occasional game of Tetris like a normal girlfriend.
  • Have her try MapleStory. That's the quintessential grinding game built for females and little kids. It's free as well.
  • Let me be the first to say

    Wtf is nethack
  • You tried bribing her with Angband? There's your problem, mate. Try bribing her with diamonds.
  • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @03:55PM (#14448185)
    Have you considered introducing her to Jack Thompson as a form of radical intervention?
  • by Allison Geode ( 598914 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @03:55PM (#14448188)
    at least she's not out there doing drugs, right? there are many worse things to be hooked on than a game. games are relatively harmless, and she's hooked on ONE game: a free one at that, so she's not wasting any money on her hobby, just time.

    whats so wrong with letting her do something that gives her pleasure? why do you feel the need to meddle in other people's leisure-time hobbies? are you jealous that she spends more time with nethack than she does you? I think that you need to ask yourself these questions first.

    I think you should be happy that she's found a fun, free (so long as she sticks to nethack), and geeky hobby. most guys would jump at the opportunity to have a game-addicted girlfriend. why aren't you?
    • at least she's not out there doing drugs, right? [...]
      whats so wrong with letting her do something that gives her pleasure?

      What makes you think it actually gives her pleasure? For many addicts, what they actually get, whether they admit it or not, is a way to hide from their problems. That can be fine in moderation, but I think one of the signs of a serious addition is that it makes the problems worse. Go take a look at the gambling addicts in any casino, or the obvious alcoholics in the bar. Does it look
  • Three Words (Score:5, Funny)

    by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) * on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @04:51PM (#14448711) Journal
    Leisure Suit Larry

    But you have to act it out with her. She gets her fix, you get yours.
  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) *
    Get her a World of Warcraft account. It will consume all her spare time for six to 18 months before she finally gets fed up with Blizzard's crap and leaves. Because it's all-consuming, she won't naturally move on to any other game. Addiction sorted.
  • Nethack. Of all available addictions...

    I don't think there's an easy way to wean her. If ordinary temptation doesn't do the job, I'd suggest you go spend more time with others. Not particular in order to find another girlfriend, but when she notices that her habit berefts her of your company and favors, she might discover that she's missing something important.

    If it doesn't, perhaps the amount of other interesting women on this planet just might be good for you.

    Good luck!

  • I think the original poster simply wrote up a fFancy article fFor slashdot about his girlfriend just to be all cool and romantic. It is, I must say, a well written article. If someone wrote it about me, I'd be fFlattered.
  • Don't try to get her off of nethack.
    Just break up with her.

    Life is too short, move on.

  • Puzzle Pirates has lots of recovering Nethack addicts. Plus it's a very soothing sort of an MMORPG. The game even sends you little messages saying you've probably been playing too long and perhaps you need some fresh air. Of course, it's also quite addicting. But you can't have everything.
  • The punk who made that software promised a source release for a very long time, getting the community heavily interested and involved in promoting it, and then chickened out and kept it closed. Irritating.
    • The punk who made that software promised a source release for a very long time,

      When did he promise a source code release? Note that a plan to release the source does not qualify as a promise.

      BTW, the reason it wasn't released was because a few loud individuals made it clear that they would not respect the copyright. Now, we have a game that has a few bugs, that is closed source, and is cheat protected.
  • Professional help (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Twylite ( 234238 ) < minus painter> on Thursday January 12, 2006 @03:24AM (#14452184) Homepage

    Assuming that you're being serious, the first step is for her to recognise her addiction and voluntarily choose to address it. Encourage her to consider what the addiction is doing to her and people around her; but she must decide that something should be done.

    Then seek professional help. Psychologists are trained to deal with addiction issues; not only treating the addiction, but also helping the person to integrate back into their family and social environment. A psychologist will also be able to help you understand what you should be doing to support her (in fact, you may even consider visiting one for advise on how to encourage her to seek help).

  • Thanks for all the suggestions, guys.

    1) It should be pretty clear I was being more than a little facetious. To those who shared the genuine stories of serious gaming addicition and offered advice - the problem is nowhere near as dire as that. But I hope anyone who is in that situation gets the help they need.

    2) Yes, I appreciate having a geek-oriented girlfriend. No, I won't be passing on her details to anyone else >:-(

    3) I will suggest broadening her gaming interests. We'll look into some of the titles
  • My wife was into sudoku for a week or two... it was starting to consume hours of each day. I simply whipped out a sudoku solver on my PDA. It wasn't the sort that would simply show the answer... it would just do the brute force process of elimination, and at each step, it would pencil in the potential answers. The game was reduced to simply setting in the cell with just one pencil mark, and re-running the process of elimination again. She quickly got bored and moved on with her life.

    I'm pretty sure I've

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp